Shark Fin Hoops CBA Preseason Power Rankings: 11 – 20

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With the Chinese Basketball Association starting on November 1st, basketball in the country is starting to slowly come back to life. By now teams have filled their rosters with free agents from both inside and outside of China and its now probably the best time to assess the quality of each of the twenty teams in the newly expanded league. This of course being China, fortunes can change very quickly for some organizations depending on the overseas players they brought in (or didn’t) and which local players managed to improve over the summer break. In the first of two segments, its time to look at the bottom half of the league based on the information that’s been available for much of the last couple of months. Continue reading

Yao Ming’s Private War With The ‘Third Foreigner’

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Since his return to China after retiring from the NBA, there arguably hasn’t been a more fascinating figure in Chinese basketball than Yao Ming (seen here towering over  7″3 center, Zhang Zhaoxu). As owner of the Shanghai Sharks, the team he bought in 2009, he has been given an opportunity to air his opinions on the state of the CBA. This, along with his massive popularity in China and abroad, has given him a unique platform to assert influence on Chinese basketball; something he has done in a very measured but noticeable way.

Indeed, the big man has shown himself to be a dab hand at maneuvering within the various state institutions that have reached out to him since his return to the mainland. Besides the CBA, Yao has been a part of Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), an essentially ceremonial body that is supposed to aid the Chinese Communist Party in drafting policy and laws. Yao though knows the game he is playing; the CPPCC need a famous face like his to give it legitimacy in the eyes of the Chinese public and in exchange Yao has used it to promote his own special interests such as animal preservation and ivory poaching in Africa. His CPPCC involvement, plus his hands-on running of the Sharks (he attends every home game and has been known to supervise training), completing his final year of university studies and an ownership of a winery at a time when the Chinese middle class spends millions of dollars each year on expensive alcohol has led to the internet joke; ‘does Yao ever sleep?Continue reading

More Teams, More Questions; Breaking Down The CBA’s Latest Expansion

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League expansion is happening and Jiangsu Tongxi and the Chongqing Flying Dragons are set to become the newest additions to the CBA, bumping up the number of association members to twenty. It marks another big day for the Chinese Basketball Association, who after years of not altering the league’s format, made sweeping rule changes this summer and have added three teams in less than twelve months (the other team, the Sichuan Blue Whales were promoted last year).

On a short-term level, this will mean more playing opportunities for local players in China’s biggest league and in theory a stronger pool of talent for the national team to draw on. On a broader scale, it also says a lot about the CBA’s bullish new attitude to building up the league and having teams in as many large urban areas in the country as possible.

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Zhu Fangyu Becomes The CBA’s Newest Summer Scandal

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Zhu Fangyu, the all-time leading scorer in the Chinese Basketball Association and a cornerstone of his country’s national team is probably wishing he could stay in America indefinitely right now. The small forward, part of the Guangdong Tigers team that has won eight CBA titles in eleven years, is currently training stateside whilst back in China, a lurid scandal involving himself, his now ex-wife and a third woman continues to gain momentum.

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Shark Fin Hoops Interview: Keith Closs

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Former Los Angeles Clipper big man Keith Closs played for the Yunnan Bulls during the 2008/09 CBA season, averaging 16.9ppg (whilst shooting nearly 60% from the floor) and 11.9 rpg. He would also lead the league in blocks with 5.9 per game. Now living in California, he talked to Shark Fin Hoops about his season in south-west China and playing for what was at the time one of the worst teams in the country. 

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Xinjiang’s Free Agency Rampage

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Among the things that most confuse long-established American players in the Chinese Basketball Association is the reluctance of local players to take advantage of their free agency. In the CBA, contracts have expiration dates like you would see in the NBA but its still extremely rare to see a high profile player move teams. Lesser known Chinese players will of course switch teams but that is more because their current employer has no interest on offering them a new deal.  Continue reading

Wang Zhizhi, Bayi And Why Goodbye Is The Hardest Word To Say

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Wang Zhizhi has always had it somewhat hard. Of the three Chinese big men that defined the early 2000s; himself, Yao Ming and Mengke Bateer, it has been Wang that has had to endure the most nonsense (and that’s putting it politely) during his career.

Quickly marked out as a talent for the future, Wang made his professional debut as an eighteen year old for the Bayi Rockets, one of the most successful teams in the history of Chinese basketball. The young big man would averaging 21 points a game from 1995 to 2000, a five year period in which Bayi won successive CBA finals without losing a game. The overseas interest in Wang was there but the Rockets seemed to have him nailed down; no-one in China saw him going anywhere. Continue reading